TOMMY Thomas – a name that has stirred plenty of attention in recent days.
Tongues started wagging after Thomas was proposed by the Cabinet to be the Attorney-General.
The Cabinet is sticking to its proposal of Thomas replacing Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, despite some reservations by the Palace.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government “was holding onto its principles” and is handling the matter based on the law and Federal Constitution while the King acts on advice from the government.
Drama aside, two senior lawyers insist Thomas can still be the government’s legal representative – whether as AG or otherwise.
“He need not be the AG and can still represent the government by fiat. We’ve seen this before and such provisions are in place,” said Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos who is a columnist for Twentytwo13.
“Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah was appointed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers in the case against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” he said.
Thomas represented Anwar in the second sodomy case. Following Pakatan Harapan’s May 9 victory, Anwar was given a royal pardon as Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V expunged all past convictions of the PKR leader.
Anwar sought an audience with the Agong late last night to discuss Thomas’ role as AG, ahead of the Rulers’ Conference meeting over the matter today.
Thomas also represented Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in several cases.
According to Jahaberdeen, the AG should be someone who is “well rounded”.
“If we continue speaking of the same old faces, they will execute unnecessary conservative authority.”
Another senior lawyer, Datuk Haaziq Pillay, echoed similar sentiments.
“But what is worrying is the turn of events following this matter. One should be judged by his work and experience, not by his faith,” Haaziq said, responding to criticism by certain quarters insisting the AG must be a Malay-Muslim.
“Thomas can still represent the government if he is an expert in a particular issue, even if he is not made AG.”
On former minister Datuk Paul Low’s suggestion that the AG should be part of the Cabinet by way of senatorship, Haaziq said: “That must be studied in detail. While it sounds exciting to have an AG being able to address matters related to law, one must remember that questions raised in Parliament must be answered. So how will an AG answer questions related to national security?
“I’m not saying it’s a bad idea but we have to look at the pros and cons.”